Prashar Lake: Prashar Lake lies 49 km from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India. There is a three storied pagoda-like temple dedicated to the sage Prashar. The lake is located at a height of 2700 mtrs above sea level. The lake with it’s deep blue waters is held sacred to the sage Prashar and he is regarded to have meditated there. The lake is surrounded by snow-covered peaks whereas deep down in the valley river Beas flows.
The temple was built in the thirteenth century and as per the legend it was built by a baby from a single tree. Every year in the month of June, famous traditional fair is held here. The lake also has a floating island in it and it is said to be unclear how deep it is, with a diver not being able to determine its depth. During winters (December, January, February) the lake and the surrounding area is covered under snow. Adventure seekers do winter trek from Drang village during this time.
The lake can be approached via village Drang but be aware that the last 12 kms to prashar lake can prove to be tough. The road is narrow and bumpy and prone to landslides. Although small cars make to the last motor able point with some difficulty and experienced driver but it is better if you have a vehicle with high ground clearance. I took my humble Santro to prashar during monsoons and had some scary moments.
There are very limited stay options at Prashar .There are 2 Guest houses , a PWD and a Forest rest House , which can be booked from their division office at Mandi. The temple complex also have few rooms and can be used depending upon the availability.If you do not get any stay options at Prashar you will have to come back to the main town of Mandi where you will find plenty of accommodation.
Other places of interest to visit around Prashar:
Tunga Mata Temple: A 12 km trek to Tunga Mata temple above the Prashar Lake is also doable if you are camping at Prashar Lake. The view from the temple is mesmerizing. The Temple is at about 2900 mtrs above sea level. From Prashar it is aprox 10 kms and aprox 14 kms from the village Jwalapuri on Mandi – Manali Highway. It is believed that the temple was built by Pandavas from a Single Stone.
Shikari Devi: The ancient temple of Shikari Devie is located around 80 kms from Mandi at an altitude of aprox 2800 mtrs. The temple is approachable by road from this Jinjheli village however road conditions are not good for the last 16 kms. The route however is beautiful with views of pines , deodar and apple orchards on both sides of the approach road.
Pandoh: You can also visit the nearby Padoh Dam about 16 kms from the main town of Mandi located on the Mandi – Manali highway.
Barot : A nice and virtually unknown small town of Barot is about 65 kms from Mandi on the Mandi – Pathankot National Highway 20. You can read about Barot in detail here http://www.palampurbikersclub.com/travel-destinations/barot-valley/
Bir- Billing: Bir Billing is famous for Paragliding and is around 115 kms from Mandi.You can read about Bir-Billing in detail here http://www.palampurbikersclub.com/travel-destinations/bir-billing/
Avg. summer temperature: 20 °C to 24 °C
Avg. winter temperature: −5 °C to -10 °C
For current weather conditions you can also refer to http://www.accuweather.com/en/in/mandi/188527/weather-forecast/188527
(I could not find Prashar lake on any of the weather sites hence referring to nearest location as Mandi. Temperature will be aprox 5 degrees below what is generally at Mandi)
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit is April to July and Sept to Nov. If you want to see the place under heaps of snow, plan your trek in late Dec to Feb.
How to get there:
By Air : Bhuntar near Kullu is the nearest Airport and there are direct flights from Delhi to Bhuntar. Please be advised that due to weather and other issues Delhi – Bhuntar flights are often canceled at the last minute. It will be better to have an alternative plan ready just in case this happens.
By Train : Chandigarh (296km) is the closest major Railway Station. From there you can either take a cab or bus. If you would like to enjoy Toy Train ride, then you can come all the way up to Joginder Nagar (100 kms) in Mandi district from Pathankot and take a cab or bus from there.
By Bus : You can take any Kullu / Manali bound bus and reach Mandi (9-10 hours journey). Daily Volvo bus service by Himachal Roadways is available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate to Manali/Kullu. Once at Mandi you can hop on to another bus to Prashar or hire a cab. Bus Service may not be frequent on this route.
By Car: Delhi – Ambala (188 KM) – Chandigarh – Roopnagar (282 KM) – Kiratpur – Bilaspur (371 KM) – Mandi (440 KM) – Prashar (489 Kms)
From Dharamshala: You can take any Mandi / Manali / Kullu bound bus and reach Mandi (125 kms , 5 – 6 hrs). Once at Mandi you can hop on to another bus to Prashar or hire a cab. Bus Service may not be frequent on this route.
Picture Credits: Praveen Parmar – Member – Palampur Bikers Club